The Moon Shines Down by Margaret Wise Brown; Illustrated by Linda Bleck

51bea6lbo3l_bo2204203200_pisitb-sticker-arrow-clicktopright35-76_aa240_sh20_ou01_I received this book in the post from Thomas Nelson publishers for a review. I have never read a Margaret Wise Brown book before. Author of over 100 children’s stories, including Goodnight Moon Margaret Wise Brown died very young in 1952 at the age of 42. This story was found in an old trunk held together by rusty paper clips. 

I read this book to my five year old son Sam one evening for bed. The story is based on an old New England prayer God bless the moon and God bless me. The style is in a rhyming prose and begins in Holland with The Moon shines down and shed its beams, on a house with a stork where a dutch boy dreams, of tulip fields by quiet streams, in his flat Dutch land of cheese and creams. The book then goes around the world, to Switzerland, Asia, Mexico, France, Australia, Africa, England and Israel (the moon shone down on the Christ child). 

It was easy and fun to read, although once or twice the rhyming did not quite fit. However, Sam really enjoyed it and we used the story to pray for the children in all the countries mentioned. The illustrations are bright and vivid and fun and really enjoyable to look at. 

This is a fun and useful book to read to your child at night.

John Stott: A Global Minstry – The Later Years by Timoty Dudley Smith

I was a little disappointed in this second volume of Timothy Dudley Smith’s biography of John Stott. It focuses too much on his overseas traveling and reads more like an itinerary than a biography – which does become somewhat tedious. However, in saying that, this volume does show how John Stott’s ministry changed to a more wide reaching level. What does come across is the passion of Stott for the gospel, for his own discipline in his spiritual walk and his energy in preaching and teaching and writing as much as he did. John Stott is inded an inspiration to many and his writings will continue to have a far reaching legacy long after he is called home to be with his Lord.

Reading The Bible: Heart and Mind by Tremper Longman

This actually a very encouraging book to read. It is not ‘heavy’  – by which I mean laden with academic words – although it is thorough – and it is not just intellectual but encourages the reader to read the Bible with BOTH the heart and mind. The point is that the process of reading scripture should be a process of steady change, excitement at interacting with God’s word and coming to a real understanding which penetrates into our Spirit. Longman gives solid advice on how to study the Bible and goes through each genre of scripture explaining how to read it and handle it.

 

This is an ideal book for someone who has become a Christian and is desperate to get into the Bible. To give such a believer this book will help them as the get into scripture.

Pilgrims Progress by John Bunyan

Charles Spurgeon read this book once a year . Bunyans Pilgrims Progress is the most read book in English bar the Bible. Since its publication in 1678 it has NEVER been out of print.

 

The bottom line is – if you have never read this book – read it. Buy it today and read it. It really is quite remarkable. I have read it numerous times and we have just finished reading it for our men’s breakfast book club. It has been fun to discuss Bunyans allegory – but it has also been both challenging and convicting.  A true, true classic.

John Newton: From Disgrace to Amazing Grace by Jonathan Atkien

Finished this biography today while Kitty and the kids were out doing some carol singing. Have never really read much about John Newton and his influence. This is a great, manageable biography to walk you through this remarkable life. From being pressed ganged into the Royal Navy in his teens – to being exchanged to the Merchant Navy because of his wild and foul behavior – to his being imprisoned for a year on a plantation in the Indies – to his spiritual experience during a storm in the Atlantic – to being an ordained minister in the Church of england to writing one of the most famous and incredible hymns EVER. Oh, as well as his integral role in the abolition of the slave trade. Aitken keeps the story moving – his chapters are not long – and is thorough. A solid piece of work.

John Stott – The Early Years by Timothy Dudley Smith

I am almost certain that I have sat next to Timothy Dudley-Smith for dinner. I am certain because when I was at Oak Hill Theological College I sat next to an Oak Hill Trustee who was a hymn writer – and Timothy Dudley-Smith was a trustee of Oak Hill!

 

That has no bearing on this biography, other than the fact he is both a close friend of John Stott and the author. John Stott is, and wil be remembered as one of the most important figures in Anglican Evangelicalism of the 20th century. It’s fitting then that this first volumne of John Stott runs to some 400 pages. It tackles the early years – his childhood, school days and early ministry. Stott was well eductaed – Rugby school and then Cambridge. But his conversion and subsequent sense of the call into ordained ministry not only challenged his relationship with his father but also, for a while, placed his integrity under scrunity. Stott felt a call to the priesthood in the middle of the Second World War and both his father and mother questioned whether Stott, a healthy young man should be pursuing the priesthood – surely he should be signing up to fight. In those days, a priest was not expected to be drafted.

 

But ordained he was and he went to All Souls Langham place – a place he was going to spend his entire ministry. The sudden death of his rector thrust a very young priest (29 years old) into the role of Rector of a large London Church.

 

The book is well written and informative, if not a little too obsessed with Stotts early camp days. Other than that this was a great read.

When People Are Big God is Small by Edward Welch

The title of this book sums up the books thesis: fear of man make people big and God small. And that is not a good thing!

 

The book provides seven steps to combat the fear of people:

1. Recognize that the fear of man is a major theme both in the Bible and in your own life.

2. Identify where your fear of man has been intensified by people in your past.

3. Identify where your fear of man has been intensified by the assumptions of the world.

4. Understand and grow in the fear of the Lord. The person who fears God will fear nothing else

5. Examine where your desires have been too big. Where we fear people, people are big, our desires are even bigger and God is small.

6. Rejoice that God has covered your shame, protected you from danger and accepted you. He has filled you with his love.

. Need other people less; love other people more. Out of obedience to Christ and as a response to his love towards you, pursue others in love.

 

This is a ‘must read’ book. The person who recommended it to me, requires his interns to read this book before they even begin the internship – a large paper responding to this book is also required! 

 

There is great gems of wisdom here. I’ll recount two of them.

 

Remembering a PTA meeting that he and his wife sat through, the school stated that bolstering self esteem was a ket goal of theirs. Welch writes:

 

“Doesn’t the teaching of self-esteem and its emphasis on self seem to make the problem worse? That was certainly my experience. When I tried to raise my own self-esteem, it just led to painful self-consciousness and further individualism. Even from a secular perspective the self-esteem teaching seems suspect. Don’t we do children a disservice by showering them with unearned approval? The self respect the schools are seeking to bestow comes only as a person develops a growing ability to meet difficult tasks, risk failure and overcome obstacles. You can’t simply confer self-esteem upon a another person. To assume that other people can control our view of ourselves is what creates low self-esteem in the first place!”